parable of two debtors

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					                        Notes on the Parables
                     Archbishop R. C. Trench D.D.
                       PUBLISHERS' NOTE.(1902AD.)

THE present popular edition of the PARABLES, with a translation of the
notes, carries out an intention which had long been in the Author's mind, but
which want of leisure—and, when leisure at last was granted, failing health—
prevented him from accomplishing.
   The text has received the Author’s latest emendations, as made by him in
his own copy during the last years of his life.
   The notes are translated so as to bring them within the reach of general
readers. In the few cases in which there existed any recognized versions of the
original works quoted, these have been followed, so far as was compatible
with correctness; but more often, no such version existing, a new translation
has been made. The whole of the work, which has been valued by the Church
and by scholars for nearly fifty years, is now brought in its entirety within the
reach of all, and takes for the first time its final form. The Author never al-
lowed his books to be stereotyped, in order that he might constantly improve
them, and permanence has only become possible when his diligent hand can
touch the work no more.

                             PARABLE XVI.
                          THE TWO DEBTORS.
                                 LUKE vii. 41-43.

IT may be taken as agreed on by all that the two earlier Evangelists and the
last, in their several records of the anointing of Christ by a woman, refer to
one and the same event (Matt. xxvi. 7; Mark xiv. 3; John xii. 3). The question
whether St. Luke refers to the same, and the woman in his Gospel, ‘which was
a sinner,’ be Mary the sister of Lazarus, as then must follow, is more difficult,
and has been variously answered from earliest times in the Church. The main
arguments for the identity not merely of three, but of all four relations are,
first, the name Simon, as that of the giver of the feast on one occasion (Luke
vii. 40), and most probably so on the other, for he certainly is the master of the
house where it was given (Matt. xxvi. 6); secondly, the unlikelihood that the
Lord should have been twice honoured in so very unusual a manner; and
thirdly, the further unlikelihood that there should have been twice on the part
of some present a misinterpretation of the homage offered, and an offence
taken. To all this it may be fairly replied, that the name Simon was much too
common among the Jews for any stress to be laid upon its recurrence.1 Then,
too, the anointing of the feet with odours or with ointments, though less usual
than the anointing of the head, yet was not without precedent;2 the only re-
markable coincidence here being, that Mary the sister of Lazarus, and the
woman ‘which was a sinner,’ should have each wiped the feet of the Lord with

the hairs of the head (Luke vii. 38; John xii. 3). If such had been any merely
fantastic honour paid to the Lord, which to offer would scarcely have sug-
gested itself to more persons than one, we might well wonder to find it on two
independent occasions repeated. But regard it as an expression of homage,
such as would naturally rise out of the deepest and truest feelings of the human
heart, and then its repetition is nowise wonderful. And such it is; in the hair is
the glory of the woman (1 Cor. xi. 15), long beautiful tresses having evermore
been held as her chiefest adornment;3 while if they in the human person are
highest in place and in honour, the feet are lowest in both. What then was this
service, but the incorporation in an outward act, of the inward truth, that the
highest and chiefest of man’s honour and glory and beauty are lower and
meaner than the lowest that pertains to God; that they only find their true
place, when doing service to Him? And what wonder that He, who stirred as
none else might ever do, feelings of intensest love and profoundest reverence
in a multitude of hearts, should twice have been the object of this honour?—
an honour, we may observe, with some differences in the motives which on
the one occasion and the other called it forth. In one case, in that of Mary the
sister of Lazarus, the immediately impelling motive was intense gratitude. She
had found the words of Christ words of eternal life to herself, and He had
crowned his gifts by restoring to her a beloved brother from the grave. The
pound of ointment ‘very costly’ was her thank-offering; and as less of shame
was mingled in her feelings, she anointed both her Lord’s feet and also his
head. But what brought this woman with the alabaster box of ointment to Je-
sus, was an earnest yearning after the forgiveness of her sins; and she, in her
deep abasement of soul before Him, presumed not to approach Him nearer
than to anoint his feet only, standing the while behind Him. Kissing them with
those lips, with which she had so often enticed the simple (Prov. v. 3; vii. 13),
and wiping with the hairs of her head, which had been so often nets with
which she had entangled souls (1 Pet. iii. 3), she realized, as in an outward act,
the bidding of St. Paul, ‘As ye have yielded your members servants to un-
cleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members ser-
vants to righteousness unto holiness’ (Rom. vi. 19). And the precious unguent,
once poured upon her own person, to enhance the unholy seduction of her
charms (Judith x. 3), this she now devotes to the service of her Lord,4 just as
the women of Israel gave the looking-glasses of their vanity to be made into
the laver of brass for the tabernacle (Exod. xxxviii. 8). And to the third argu-
ment it may be answered, that though the two incidents have this in common,
that in both the act was misinterpreted and some offended, yet beyond this
there is no similarity. In the one instance, the Pharisee, the giver of the feast, is
offended; in the other, some of the disciples, and mainly Judas: the Pharisee is
offended with the Lord, Judas not so much with Him as with the woman; the
Pharisee, because the Lord’s conduct seems inconsistent with his reputation
for holiness, but Judas from a meaner motive of covetousness. To all which
we may add, that there is nothing to make probable, that Mary of the happy
family circle in Bethany,5 to whom the Lord bears such honourable testimony
(Luke x. 42), had ever been aforetime one to whom the title of ‘sinner,’6 as it
is here meant, could belong; and, as one has well urged, with the risen Lazarus
at the table (John xii. 2), even this Pharisee would hardly have jumped so rap-
idly to his conclusion that his guest was no prophet of God after all.

   These arguments appear so convincing, that one is surprised to discover
how much opinion has fluctuated from the first, on the relation of these histo-
ries one to another,—the Greek fathers generally keeping them apart, while
they are identified by the Latin. This last opinion, however, finally prevailed,
and was almost universal from the time of Gregory the Great, who threw all
his weight into this scale, until the times of the Reformation. Then, when the
Scriptures were again subjected to a more critical examination, the other inter-
pretation gradually became prevalent anew, and had for some while been rec-
ognized almost without a dissentient voice, till Schleiermacher not very long
ago, and more lately Hengstenberg, have maintained, and both with singular
ability,7 that the anointing happened but once.8 But to enter further on this de-
bate would be alien to the present purpose and the passage containing the par-
able of the Two Debtors will be considered without any reference to the histo-
ries in the other Gospels, with which, as I am convinced, it has certain acci-
dental coincidences, but this is all.
   Our Lord had been invited by one of the Pharisees, and this was not the only
occasion, for see Luke xi. 37, that He would eat with him; He was as prompt
to accept the invitation of a Pharisee as of a chief publican, for one needed
Him as much as did the other; ‘and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat
down to meat.’ That a woman, and one not better reputed than this woman
was, should have pressed into the guest-chamber, uninvited by the master of
the house or by the Lord, and should have there been permitted to offer to him
the homage which she did, may seem strange;—yet does not require the sup-
position of something untold to explain it, as that she was related to Simon
(Hengstenberg thinks she was his sister-in-law, Simon being for him the hus-
band of Martha), or lived in the same house,—suppositions altogether foreign
to the narrative, not to say in contradiction to it. A little acquaintance with the
manners of the East, where meals are so public, where ranks are not separated
by such rigid barriers as with us, will make us understand how easily all re-
corded here might have happened;9 not to say that, even had there been obsta-
cles insuperable to another, or to herself in another state of mind, these would
easily have been put aside, or broken through, by an earnestness such as now
possessed her; it being the very nature of such an earnestness to break through
and despise these barriers, nor ever to ask itself whether, in the world’s judg-
ment, it be in season,’ or ‘out of season.’10
   In the thoughts which passed through the heart of the Pharisee,—displeased
that the Lord, so far from repelling, graciously accepted the homage of this
suppliant,—the true spirit of a Pharisee betrays itself,11 unable to raise himself
above a ceremonial defilement, or to understand of holiness as standing in
aught save the purifying of the flesh.12 In the conclusion to which he arrives,
‘This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of
woman this is,’ we trace the prevailing belief, that discerning of spirits was
one of the notes of a true prophet, above all of the greatest prophet of all, the
Messiah,—a belief founded on Isai. xi. 3, 4 (see 1 Kin. xiv. 6; 2 Kin. i. 3; v.
26); nor can it be doubted that such a power of searching hearts is in the New
Testament and with a certain emphasis claimed continually for the Lord (Matt.
ix. 12; xii. 24; John i. 47-49; ii. 25; iv. 29; vi. 61).13 The Pharisee in fact men-
tally put the Lord into this dilemma,—Either He does not know the true char-
acter of this woman, in which case He lacks that discernment of spirits which
marks a true prophet; or, if He knows, and yet endures her touch, and is will-

ing to accept homage at such hands, He lacks that holiness which is no less the
note of a prophet of God; such therefore in either case He cannot be. As these
thoughts passed through his mind, he may have already repented of the super-
fluous honour he had shown to one, whose pretensions to a mission from God
he had in this summary way convinced himself were unfounded.
   The Lord shows that He is indeed a discerner of the thoughts of hearts, by
reading at once what is passing in his. Laying his finger without more ado on
the tainted spot which was there, He says, ‘Simon, I have somewhat to say
unto thee.’ The other cannot refuse to hear; nor has he so entirely renounced
all faith in the higher character of his guest, but that he still addresses Him
with an appellation of respect ‘Master, say on.’ With this leave to speak asked
and obtained, the parable is uttered: ‘There was a certain creditor which had
two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.’ In the
words themselves there is no difficulty, but in their application one or two will
presently claim to be considered. God, it needs not to say, is the creditor, men
the debtors (Matt. xviii. 24), and sins the debts (Matt. vi. 12). The sums
named, ‘five hundred pence,’ and ‘fifty,’ vary indeed, but not at all in the same
proportion as those in the parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. xviii.
24,28). There one owes ten thousand talents, and another a hundred pence, —
an enormous difference, even as the difference is enormous between the sins
which a man commits against God, and those which his fellow-man may
commit against him; here the difference is immeasurably less, the sums vary-
ing only in the proportion of ten to one, for no such incalculable diversity ex-
ists between the sins which one man and another commit against God.
   ‘And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me
therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I sup-
pose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast
rightly judged.’ Our difficulties meet us in the transfer of what is here said,
from the natural world to the spiritual. Are we to conclude, as at first might
appear, that there is any advantage in having multiplied transgressions; in ow-
ing to God a large debt rather than a small; that the wider one has wandered
from God, the closer, if brought back at all, he will cleave to Him afterwards?
the more sin, the more love? Would it not then follow, ‘Let us do evil, that
good may come,’—let us sin much now, that hereafter we may love much,
avoiding that luke-warmness of affections which will be their condition that
have sinned but little? And must we not then conclude, that for a man to have
been preserved from gross offences in the time before he was awakened to a
deeper religious earnestness,—or, better still, to have grown out of his baptis-
mal root,—this, instead of being a matter of everlasting thanksgiving, would
interpose an effectual barrier to any very near and high communion of love
with his Saviour? And to understand the passage thus, would it not involve a
moral contradiction,—that the more a man has emptied himself of good,—the
more he has laid waste all nobler affections and powers,—the deeper his heart
has sunk in selfishness and sensuality (for sin is all this), the more capable he
will be of the highest and purest love?
   But the whole matter is clear, if we contemplate the debt, not as an objec-
tive, but a subjective debt,—not as so many outward transgressions and out-
breaks of evil, but as so much conscience of sin; which we know is nowise in
proportion to a man’s actual and positive violations of God’s law. Often they
who have least of what the world can call sin, or rather crime (for the world, as

such, knows nothing of sin), have the strongest sense of the exceeding sinful-
ness of sin, are most conscious of it as a root of bitterness within them, and
therefore, as they have most groaned under the evil, are the most thankful for
the gift of a Redeemer. But ‘he to whom little is forgiven’ is not necessarily
one who has sinned little, but one who lacks any strong conviction of the ma-
lignity of sin, and of his own share in the universal disease; who therefore,
while he may have no serious objection to God’s plan of salvation, nay, a cold
respect, as had this Pharisee, for Christ, yet esteems that he could have done as
well, or nearly as well, without Him. He loves little, because he has little sense
of a deliverance wrought for him; because he never knew what it was to lie
under the curse of a broken law, and then by that Saviour to be set free, and
brought into the liberty of the children of God.14
    Simon himself was an example of one who thus loved little, who having
little sense of sin, but slightly felt his need of a Redeemer, and therefore loved
that Redeemer but little; and he had betrayed this faintness of his love in small
yet significant matters. Counting the invitation itself a sufficient honour done
to his guest, he had withheld from Him courtesies almost universal in the East;
had neither given Him water for the feet (Gen. xviii. 4; Judg. xix. 21; 1 Tim. v.
10), nor offered Him the kiss of peace (Gen. xxxiii. 4; Exod. xviii. 7), nor
anointed his head with oil, as was ever the custom at festivals (Ps. xxiii. 5;
cxli. 5; Matt. vi. 17). But while he had fallen thus short of the customary cour-
tesies, that woman had far exceeded them. He had not poured water on the
Saviour’s feet; she had washed them, not with water, but with her tears—the
blood of her heart,15 as Augustine calls them, and then wiped them with the
hairs of her head; he had not given the single kiss of salutation on the cheek,
she had multiplied kisses, and those upon the feet; he had not anointed the
head of Jesus with ordinary oil, but she with precious ointment had anointed
even his feet.
    ‘Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she
loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.’ An embar-
rassment, by all acknowledged, lies on the face of these words: first, how to
bring them into agreement with the parable, for in that the debtor is said to
love much, because forgiven much, and not to be forgiven much, because he
loved much; and again, how to bring them into agreement with the general
tenor of Scripture, which ever teaches that we love God, because He first
loved us,—that faith is the one previous condition of forgiveness, and not
love, which is not a condition at all, but a consequence. Some have felt these
difficulties so strongly, that in their fear lest the Roman Catholics should draw
any support for their fides formata from the passage, which indeed they are
willing enough to do,—they have affirmed that the word designating the cause
stands for that designating the consequence,—that ‘her sins are forgiven, for
she loved much,’ means ‘her sins are forgiven, therefore she loved much.’16
But, in the first place, she did not as yet know her sins to be forgiven,—the
absolving words are only spoken in the verse following;—and moreover, this
escape from a doctrinal embarrassment, by violence done to the plain words of
the text, will find no favour with them who believe that in the interpretation of
Scripture, as of any other book, grammar, and the laws of human speech,
should first be respected; that the doctrine can take care of itself, and will
never in the end be found in contradiction with itself. And as regards advan-
tage which Roman Catholic controversialists would fain draw from the pas-

sage, such, whatever the explanation, there can be none. The parable stands in
the heart of the narrative, an insuperable barrier against such. He who owed
the larger debt is not forgiven it as freely as the other is his smaller debt, be-
cause of the greater love which he before felt towards the creditor;17 but, on
the contrary, the sense of a larger debt remitted makes him afterwards love
him that remitted it more. Moreover, were it meant that her sins were forgiven,
because—in their sense who would make charity justify, and not faith,18—she
loved much, the other clause in the sentence would necessarily be, ‘but he who
loveth little, to the same little is forgiven.’
   But the words, ‘for she loved much,’ may best be explained by considering
what the strong sorrow for sin, and the earnest desire after forgiveness, such as
this woman displayed, mean, and from whence they arise. Surely from a deep
sense in the sinner’s heart, that by his sins he has separated himself from that
God who is Love, while yet he cannot do without his love,—from a feeling
that the heart must be again permitted to love Him, again assured of his love
towards it, else it will utterly wither and die. Sin unforgiven is felt to be the
great hindrance to this; and the desire after forgiveness,—if it be not a mere
selfish desire after personal safety, in which case it can be nothing before
God,—is the desire for the removal of this hindrance, that so the heart may be
free to love and to know itself beloved again. This desire then is itself love at
its negative pole; not as yet made positive, for the absolving word of grace can
alone make it this. It is the flower of love desiring to bud and bloom, but not
venturing to put forth its petals in the chilling atmosphere of God’s anger; but
which will do this at once, when to the stern winter of his wrath the genial
spring of his love succeeds. In this sense that woman ‘loved much.’ All that
she did attested the intense yearning of her heart after a reconciliation with a
God of love, from whom she had separated herself by her sins. All her tears
and her services witnessed how much she yearned to be permitted to love Him
and to know herself beloved of Him; and on account of this her love, which, in
fact, was faith19 (see ver. 50, ‘Thy faith hath saved thee ‘), she obtained for-
giveness of her sins. This acknowledgment that a life apart from God is not
life but death, with the conviction that in God there is fulness of grace and
blessing, and that He is willing to impart of this fulness to all who bring the
vessels of empty hearts to be filled by Him; this, call it faith or initiatory love,
is what alone makes man receptive of any divine gift; and this the Pharisee, in
the self-sufficiency of his legal righteousness,20 had scarcely at all; he there-
fore deriving little or no profit from that nearness to Christ into which by
God’s gracious providence he was brought. But that woman had it in large
measure; she therefore bore away the choicest and best blessing which the Son
of God had to bestow; to her those words of joy were spoken, ‘Thy sins are
forgiven ‘(cf. Luke v. 20). Many were offended; ‘they that sat at meat with
him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?’ of-
fended as others before at a similar bestowal of pardon had been (Matt. ix. 2,
3; Mark 1 7), yet not venturing openly to utter their displeasure; He mean-
while, not disconcerted by these murmurs of theirs, but implicitly reasserting
his claim to forgive sins, followed up one word of grace and power by another,
‘Thy faith hath saved thee (cf. Mark x. 52; Matt. ix. 29); go in peace;’ and thus
in her it was fulfilled, that ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more

1 Besides these two, as I take them, there are nine Simons mentioned in the New Testament:
Simon Peter (Matt. iv. 18); Simon Zelotes (Luke vi. 15); Simon, one of the Lord’s brethren
(Matt. xiii. 55); Simon of Cyrene (Matt. xxvii. 32); Simon, father of Judas Iscariot (John vi.
71); Simon Magus (Acts viii. 9); Simon, Peter’s host at Joppa (Acts ix. 43); Simeon, for it is
the same name, who took the infant Saviour in his arms in the temple (Luke ii. 25); and
Simeon called Niger, a prophet at Antioch (Acts xiii. 1).

2 Thus Curtius, of the Indian monarchs (viii. 9): ‘The sandals are taken off and the feet
anointed with perfumes;’ and Plutarch mentions, but on a peculiar occasion, wine and sweet-
smelling essences as so used (Becker, Charicles, vol. i. p. 428). Sandals were taken off before
meals, which would leave the service of the woman easy and natural to be done. Thus Terence
                                Adcurrunt servi, soccos detrahunt,
                                Inde alii festinare, lectos sternere,
                                        Ccenam apparare.
(‘The servants run up and pull off the sandals, then others hasten, spread the couches, and
make ready the supper.’) In ancient bas-reliefs and pictures we constantly see the guests re-
clining with their feet bare (see the Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Antt. s.v. Coena, p. 253).

3 So the Latin poet: Quad primum formae decus est, cecidere capilli. (‘Then fell the hair, of
beauty the chief grace.’) And of nearly similar uses of the hair in extreme humiliation and
deprecation of the divine anger we have abundant examples in profane history. Thus Livy, iii.
7 ‘On all sides are prostrate matrons, sweeping the temples with their hair and beseeching the
remission of the wrath of heaven.’ Cf. Polybius, ix. 6, 3.

4 Gregory the Great (Hom. 33 in Evang.): ‘She considered what she did, and would not abate
aught in what she was doing.’ The whole discourse is full of beauty.

5 ‘serene and serious’, as a Greek father entitles her.

6 ‘Which was a sinner’ must then mean ‘which had been a sinner,’ but had long since re-
pented and chosen the better part; even as the history must be here altogether out of its place,
for the anointing by Mary immediately preceded the Lord’s death, being for his burial (Matt.
xxvi. 12). Many do thus understand the words to refer to sins long ago committed, and long
ago forsaken; as Grotius, partly moved thereto by the necessities of his Harmony, which ad-
mits but one anointing, and partly, afraid as he was of the Gospel of the grace of God, by his
dread of antinomian tendencies in the other interpretation; this same fear making another ex-
positor affirm, that her sin was no worse than an over-fondness for dress. Had the woman,
however, long since returned to the paths of holiness, even the Pharisee himself would hardly
have taken so ill the gracious reception which she found, or spoken of her as being, not as
having been, a sinner. We should rather with Augustine (Serm. 99) consider this as the turning
moment of her life: ‘She came unto the Lord impure to return pure, she came sick to return

7 Hengstenberg has bestowed an immense amount of labour on the endeavour to prove the
identity of Mary the sister of Lazarus, and the woman that was a sinner; and also the further
identity of Mary Magdalene with these two;—or with this one, as he regards her. To my mind
he has failed altogether; but no one knows all which can be said on that side of the question,
who has not read his treatise, for it is nothing less (Evangelium des Johannes,) vol. ii. pp. 198-
224), on the matter. It is a singular display of rare, but wasted, ingenuity.

8 For a good sketch of the controversy see Deyling, Obss. Sac. vol. iii. p. 291.

9 I quote the following in confirmation: ‘At dinner at the Consul’s house at Damietta we were
much interested in observing a custom of the country. In the room where we were received,
besides the divan on which we sat, there were seats all round the walls. Many came in and
took their place on those side-seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at
table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them. This made us un-

derstand the scene in Simon’s house at Bethany, where Jesus sat at supper, and Mary came in
and anointed his feet with ointment; and also the scene in the Pharisee’s house, where the
woman who was a sinner came in uninvited and yet not forbidden, and washed his feet with
her tears. We afterwards saw this custom at Jerusalem, and there it was still more fitted to il-
lustrate these incidents. We were sitting round Mr. Nicolayson’s table, when first one, and
then another stranger opened the door, and came in, taking their seat by the wall. They leant
forward and spoke to those at the table.’ (Narrative of a Mission to the Jews from the Church
of Scotland in 1839.)

10 Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. cxl. 4): ‘She, the unchaste, who once had been forward unto forni-
cation, now yet more forward unto health, forced her way into a strange house; ‘and again
(Serm. xcix. 1): ‘Ye see this notorious woman . . . how she burst in uninvited upon the feast
where her physician was sitting, and with pious shamelessness sought out her cure, bursting in
unseasonably for the feast, but seasonably for her own aiding; ‘and Gregory the Great (Hom.
33 in Evang.) ‘Because she perceived the pollution of her foulness, she hastened to the fount
of compassion to be washed, and was not abashed before the guests; for because within her-
self she was sorely abashed before her own self, she thought it nothing that she should be
shamed in public;’ and another (Bernard, Opp. vol. ii. p. 601): ‘Thanks be to thee, O most
blessed of sinful women; thou hast shown the world a place where sinners may find safety
enough, even the feet of Jesus, which spurn no man, reject no man, repel no man, but wel-
come all and receive all. There assuredly the Aethiopian changeth her skin, there the leopard
changeth its spots; there only the Pharisee can help casting aside his pride.’

11 Augustine: ‘He had holiness in his body, but not in his heart, and because he had it not in
his heart, assuredly that which he had in his body was false.’ Cf. Enarr. in Ps. c. 5; cxxv. 2;
and Gregory the Great (Hom. 34 in Evang.): ‘True justice feels compassion, false justice
scorn.’—As a specimen of similar notions of holiness current among the Jews, a commentator
on Prov. v. 8 puts this very question: ‘To what distance should we draw aloof from a prosti-
tute? Rabbi Chasda answers: To four cubits ‘(Schoettgen, Her. Heb. vol. i. p. 348). And again,
p. 303, various Rabbis are extolled for the precautions which they took to keep lepers at a dis-
tance; for example, by flinging stones at them if they approached too near.

12 Bernard, in a beautiful passage (De Dedic. Ecc. Scrim. 4), styles him, ‘That Pharisee who
murmured against the physician engaged in his work of healing, and was angered with the
sick woman who was being cured.’

13 Vitringa (Obss. Sac. vol. i. p. 479) has an interesting and instructive essay (De Signis a
Messid edendis) on the expectations of the Jews concerning the miracles which the Messiah
was to perform, and by which He should legitimate his pretensions.

14 Augustine (Serm. xcix. 4) freely acknowledges the stress of this difficulty: ‘For 1 am told,
if he to whom little is forgiven loves little, but he to whom more is forgiven loves more, and it
is better to love more than to love less, then ought we to sin greatly ... that we may more fully
love the remitter of our heavy debts;’ and again: ‘If I find that he loves more to whom more
sins have been forgiven, then was the greatness of his sin to his advantage, yea, the greatness
of his iniquity was to his advantage, in avoiding a lukewarm love.’ And he solves it as is done
above: ‘O Pharisee, thou lovest but little because thou deemest that little is forgiven thee; not
because but little is forgiven, but because thou thinkest that which is forgiven thee to be but
little.’ Compare a beautiful sermon by Schleiermacher (Predigten, vol. i. p. 524).

15 ‘She poured forth tears, the blood of the heart.’

16 They make ότι = διο, and very idly appeal to John viii. 44; 1 John iii. 44, in confirmation:
see Winer, Gramm. §57, p. 536.

17 Incredible as it will appear, this is actually the interpretation of Maldonatus (ad loc.):
‘Which of them will love him most? ‘is only, he affirms, a popular way of saying, ‘Which of
them did love him most?’ which may you conclude from the effect to have had most affection
for him, and therefore to have been dearest to him, he to whom he remitted a large debt, or he

to whom he only remitted a small?—He claims Euthymius and Augustine as agreeing with
him; the latter certainly without right.

18 I quote here some remarkable words of Coleridge (Literary Remains, vol. ii. p. 368), on the
attempt thus to substitute charity for faith in the justification of a sinner. ‘To many, to myself
formerly, it has appeared a mere dispute about words: but it is by no means of so harmless a
character; for it tends to give a false direction to our thoughts, by diverting the conscience
from the ruined and corrupted state in which we are without Christ. Sin is the disease. What is
the remedy?—Charity? —Pshaw i Charity in the large apostolic sense of the term is the
health, the state to be obtained by the use of the remedy, not the sovereign balm itself,—faith
of grace,—faith in the God—manhood, the cross, the mediation, the perfected righteousness
of Jesus, to the utter rejection and abjuration of all righteousness of our own! Faith alone is the
restorative. The Romish scheme is preposterous;—it puts the rill before the spring. Faith is the
source,—charity, that is, the whole Christian life, is the stream from it. It is quite childish to
talk of faith being imperfect without charity; as wisely might you say that a fire, however
bright and strong, was imperfect without heat; or that the sun, however cloudless, is imperfect
without beams. The true answer would be: It is not faith,—but utter reprobate faithlessness.’

19 Very distinctly Theophylact (in loc.): ‘Because she loved much, another way of saying,
because she showed great faith,’ and presently before he calls all which she had been doing
for her Saviour, ‘signs of faith and love.’ Ser Gerhard, Loc. Theoll. loc. xvi. 8. 1.

20 The Bustan of the famous Persian poet Saadi (Tholuck, Bluthen-samml. aus d. Morgenl.
Mystik, p. 251) has a story which sounds like an echo of this evangelical history. Jesus, while
on earth, was once entertained in the cell of a dervish of eminent reputation for sanctity. In the
same city dwelt a youth sunk in every sin, ‘whose heart was so black that Satan himself
shrunk back from it in horror; ‘he, appearing before the cell of the monk, as smitten by the
very presence of the Divine prophet, began to lament deeply the wickedness of his life past,
and shedding abundant tears, to implore pardon and grace. The monk indignantly interrupted
him, demanding how he dared to appear in his presence and in that of God’s holy prophet;
assured him that for him there was no forgiveness; and in proof how inexorably he considered
his lot was fixed for hell, exclaimed, ‘My God, grant me but one thing, that I may stand far
from this man on the judgment-day.’ On this Jesus spoke: ‘It shall be even so: the prayer of
both is granted. This sinner has sought mercy and grace, and has not sought them in vain,—his
sins are forgiven, his place shall be in Paradise at the last day. But this monk has prayed that
he may never stand near this sinner,—his prayer too is granted, hell shall be his place, for
there this sinner shall never come.’


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